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Flying in Army Corps of Engineers & Bureau of Reclamation recreation areas (in the US)

bheiser1

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I’m in California, but suspect this applies to any area with either of the two types of recreation areas in the subject (which I believe are mostly/all in the west). I’ve searched websites and scoured whatever regulations I could find online, and haven’t seen any prohibitions on flying in these areas. In my mind, it should be OK, as:

- neither is part of the National Park Service;
- are federal lands and hence probably not under county or other local jurisdiction; (or are they)
- and assuming all “drone code” and FAA regulations are followed

However, yesterday I drove to a Bureau of Reclamation site, and they had a large billboard with a long list of regulations. I felt a bit deflated when I saw this:

71C5F1C6-094E-40AE-A093-ED7B8C9E6955.jpeg

I assume this was written long ago and they probably had airplanes in mind. But it doesn’t say airplanes, it says aircraft, thus I would be in violation if I flew. So I interpret it as a big NO for drones. It seems unlikely that these areas will have aircraft areas designated by the District Commander, and if they do, they’re probably be for airplanes (e.g. float planes on reservoirs or rivers).

Before I go and get myself in trouble (and then probably disqualified in a Part107 application) do any of you have any experience flying in either of these types of areas and have confirmation of the applicable rules?

Candidly, I’m asking out of frustration, as I am seeing my field of potential interesting flying areas dwindling, and I find myself questioning the investment I’ve made already. I want to be very sure wherever I fly is won’t cause me financial, legal, or other grief, and (this goes without saying) that it’s safe.
 

AMann

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I used to be a seasonal ranger at Stanislaus River Parks (USACOE) and as far as I know, yes- drones would be included on their aircraft restrictions. Best to ask though...
 

dirkclod

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I fly COE land all the time,like almost everyday here in MS. Now I take off alot from right in front of the lock house on the TenTom waterway .They have never said anything to me other than to look at my screen.
I have never seen any signs here stating what you just showed.On the west side we have COE hunting land and fly there when not on the pool behind the lock.I mean i fly all around the place and here's a screenshot of a peice of video i hadn't did anything with it yet.

Screen Shot 2020-01-13 at 2.22.14 PM.png Now we have 3 locks in my county and they all know me . Guess I might ought to call the Main office here and inquire but been doing it since I have been flying.
 
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bheiser1

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I used to be a seasonal ranger at Stanislaus River Parks (USACOE) and as far as I know, yes- drones would be included on their aircraft restrictions. Best to ask though...
Oh, interesting, that’s where I was. Yeah I just took that as a “no” and left. There were too may people around anyway but before seeing that prohibition had figured I could go back at a time when there weren’t visitors around. I had checked the website before driving all the way down there and didn’t see anything about that.
 

AMann

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Oh, interesting, that’s where I was. Yeah I just took that as a “no” and left. There were too may people around anyway but before seeing that prohibition had figured I could go back at a time when there weren’t visitors around. I had checked the website before driving all the way down there and didn’t see anything about that.
Go up Tulloch Dam road, plenty of overlooks above the river, pretty canyon too!
 
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bheiser1

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Go up Tulloch Dam road, plenty of overlooks above the river, pretty canyon too!
Thanks for the tip! I’ve been up there shooting regular photos (nice sunset view across the fields) and that canyon road is pretty cool. AirMap has that area marked in yellow due to a ranch airstrip <5 miles away :(.
 
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JimWest

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I wanted to photograph Mississippi River flooding last spring at a Corps of Engineers dam near New Orleans. Class G airspace and no anti-drone signs, but I stopped in at the office to ask and they said, yes, drones are prohibited but the restriction is not much publicized.
 

MrSoulier

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A couple of weeks ago I was run off of a “public” boat launch at the Old River Control Structure for the Mississippi River in Louisiana because it was “Government” property. I checked UAV Forecast, B4UFLY and Kittyhawk, none of them showed any restrictions for miles. Nor were there any postings banning drones or anything for that matter. I tried to find information about it but I didn’t find anything.

Any of you know what the actual law is? Or is this just a case of drone fear mongering?
 

Survey Dave

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Here are the rules and regulations from the COE. I carry copies of all the rules everywhere I go so I can explain to any on lookers. The COE does not regulate the airspace. I am from South Dakota and live on the Missouri River/Lake Oahe. I met with the COE at their offices and had about an hour conversation with them. They had no idea what they were talking about. I explained the Federal laws to them and they quit appreciative. One of them thought he was pretty big stuff and immediately told me I cant fly, blah blah blah. I told him that was not the case. The one thing I did that they requested was stay away form the powerhouse and substation. All though I didn't necessarily have to since there is not any restricted airspace over any of the structures. We are a town of about 16,000 so it is not hard to ruffle feathers and have word travel. So as far as the rules go. You can not take off or land from project properties which is all COE land. But there are some ways around this. The boat ramps are all owned by the State GFP. You CAN take off and land from their land. I work am a surveyor and know a lot of the boundaries around here. We have one boat ramp in town that has the COE and GFP boundary zig zag through the parking lot. So, I stay on the GFP side. Problem solved! Any way, you still will want to check before you fly anywhere because you never know if any restrictions have been put in place. But as far as the rules. Take off from public non COE land and fly over any body of water you want. Do you see commercial planes going around the rivers and lakes? I should add that the GFP owns the ramps here but that may not be the case where you are at. I have highlighted the section for aircraft. Pay close attention to (d)
 

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dirkclod

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Well like I said i have been doing it for years with no issues and just now e-mailed them for any regulations
they have about it.I just read what you have highlighted . Maybe being they all know me here they don't care or are not aware of any of that. We just have locks here and do take off from the boat launch parking areas but also right by the lock house's. Will be interesting the reply I get .
 

AMann

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A couple of weeks ago I was run off of a “public” boat launch at the Old River Control Structure for the Mississippi River in Louisiana because it was “Government” property. I checked UAV Forecast, B4UFLY and Kittyhawk, none of them showed any restrictions for miles. Nor were there any postings banning drones or anything for that matter. I tried to find information about it but I didn’t find anything.

Any of you know what the actual law is? Or is this just a case of drone fear mongering?
Is the ramp Corps, Department of Reclamation, or State? Its legal to fly on ‘government property’ unless specified in their rules. Which government agency is it?
 

Survey Dave

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Well like I said i have been doing it for years with no issues and just now e-mailed them for any regulations
they have about it.I just read what you have highlighted . Maybe being they all know me here they don't care or are not aware of any of that. We just have locks here and do take off from the boat launch parking areas but also right by the lock house's. Will be interesting the reply I get .
Please post if you receive anything.
 

theDRONEranger

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Did I miss something here? I did not read that you may NOT fly, but rather you may responsibly fly in designated areas!

please point out my error.
 

dirkclod

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I have yet to receive a return to my e mail from them.
So guess I will just carry on like I have for years.
Maybe different districts just don’t pursue it like others.
Don’t know.
 
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AMann

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I have yet to receive a return to my e mail from them.
So guess I will just carry on like I have for years.
Maybe different districts just don’t pursue it like others.
Don’t know.
I wouldn’t worry about it, but you could fly while hiding in bushes like that one member here professed to doing... ;)
 

dronerdave

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AirMap has that area marked in yellow due to a ranch airstrip <5 miles away :(.
Yeah that and Sierra Conservation Center which is a prison. I was able to fly up Chinese Camp rd which is BLM in some spots. It's right on the edge of that air strip zone. Cooperstown and Rock River rd are nice this time of year but most is private property. I just never launch off private property and don't venture too far from the road. Melones is BLM and looks clear but I've never checked the rules. I've flown up by Moccasin at Don Pedro w/o issues other than eagles and osprey. Too bad about the Stanislaus...I had planned to check that out especially Knight's Ferry bridge. I look for spots where there is fishing access and there are a few spots on the Tuolumne to launch from below Pedro. Here is Basso Bridge

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